Guber Hatches New Company

Backs new kids' branded entertainment venture

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%%STORYIMAGE_LEFT%% The Who said the "kids are alright." Two showbiz execs agree and are shopping a business plan around town aimed at creating branded children's programming.

The model being presented under the aegis of The Hatchery is being touted by former Sony and Mattel exec Bruce Stein and TV veteran Margaret Loesch, one of the integral players in the launch of the Hallmark Channel. The duo's development slate, which encompasses both TV and feature film projects, has caught the eye of Hollywood impresario Peter Guber, who's ponied up an undisclosed amount to help capitalize the new outfit. One exec, who has heard the pitch, estimated that the duo would need $25-50 million in funding to "make it work."

While the odds of developing a successful property in the kids arena are not any better than in any other demographic segment of entertainment, Stein and Loesch appear to be betting on the higher profit potential from ancillary revenue streams with children's properties vis-à-vis general programming. "And you're typically able to execute properties that have lower cost than the adult-skewed stuff. So ability to make margins earlier tends to be better," offered one exec close to the situation.

Writer-producer Dan Angel, who was involved in the successful Fox Kids property "Goosebumps," is also a member of the team. Loesch was a founder of Fox Kids.

%%PULLQUOTE_RIGHT%% As worldwide president and COO of Mattel, Stein was a major player in the marketing and development of the company's toy lines with an emphasis on software.

Guber, the legendary Hollywood impresario, was one of the first entertainment chieftains to hang a shingle in the entertainment marketing space with his Mandalay Branded Entertainment. Over the course of the past year, the company lost its CEO Scott Mednick, and Guber, the former Sony Pictures honcho, appears to have shifted his focus to his primary businesses including his feature film projects.

"Peter is sticking to his knitting but remains open to getting involved with branded entertainment ventures as a backer," said one entertainment exec.

Neither Stein nor Guber returned calls at presstime.

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